Saturday, March 5, 2011

Permission to Pee

"Donald Rumsfeld was spruiking his new memoirs on radio last week, when he eas asked for his take on the revolutions in the Middle East. His response did nothing to dispel deep cynicism about United States foreign policy goals in the region. You might have expected him to at least mention democracy. Maybe say something about the empowerment of Arab citizens? Or about the end of brutal regimes that tortured their own people? Perhaps make some reference to the role that poverty and inequity have played in bringing about the incredible transformations? But instead the Bush administration defence secretary zeroed in on the only thing that really mattered in his eyes. That is, what the changes in the Middle East mean for US interests. Rumsfeld: 'I think what's happening is that we had good relations with many of the governments... in that region, and it was contributing to a stable situation with respect to the generally hostile attitude towards Israel'. He singled out Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the ayatollahs in Iran. 'So you could get the Muslim Brotherhood who are radical extremists over Egypt which would be terribly dangerous'." (Middle East ideals meet master of realpolitik, Cynthia Banham, Sydney Morning Herald, 4/3/11)

US interests, Cynthia? You just don't get it, do you? You don't even notice that Rumsfeld here isn't talking about US interests, he's talking about Israeli interests. What is it going to take for you to realise that US policy in the Middle East is quite literally MADE IN ISRAEL?

Which brings us to the following (excerpted) must-read by columnist, Philip Giraldi:

"Last Friday's American veto of the United Nations Security Council resolution that would have called Israeli settlement activity on the West Bank illegal was not only shameful, it was possibly the low point of the of the already foundering Obama presidency. To be sure, United States UN Ambassador Susan Rice accompanied the veto with a stirring rendition of I'll cry tomorrow as she described how the Obama White House really is opposed to the settlements. Really. Rice argued that supporting or even abstaining on a resolution criticizing Israel, however mildly framed, might set back the peace process, which, as she well knows, died completely over 6 months ago. But let's not get hung up on the details. Rice should have said instead that her boss in the White House is so afraid of the Israel Lobby that he has to ask permission when he goes to the bathroom. At least that would have been completely credible, something you can believe in from an Administration that has otherwise delivered squat to the many voters who supported Obama in hopes that he might actually be interested in peace in our time.

"And Obama has a lot to be afraid of, mostly from the old knife in the back trick from the Israeli boosters in his own party. This is too clever by half, said representative Anthony Weiner. Instead of doing the correct and principled thing and vetoing an inappropriate and wrong resolution, they now have opened the door to more and more anti-Israeli efforts coming to the floor of the UN. Representative Nita Lowey agreed, Compromising our support for Israel at the UN is not an option. And over at the GOP side of the House, shortly before the veto, the new Chair of the Foreign Affairs committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen criticized the resolution: Support for this anti-Israel statement is a major concession to enemies of the Jewish State and other free democracies. Offering to criticize our closest ally at the UN isn't leadership, it's unacceptable. And to make sure Israel will have the money to expand its settlements, last Wednesday 67 freshmen Republican House members sent a letter to their party's leadership supporting full funding of aid to Israel. The letter cited the lawmakers' 'recognition that the national security of the United States is directly tied to the strength and security of the State of Israel'. Nice one, Anthony, Nita, Ileana and all those new congressmen who were elected because they promised to do some budget cutting, but I don't detect anything about what the American national interest might be, just a bit of nonsense about 'support for Israel', 'our closest ally', and even more ridiculous bleating about how arming Israel makes America safer. In fact, none of you even mentioned the United States. Excuse me, I thought you dudes were serving in the US Congress, not the Knesset, but I might be wrong about that...

"For those who have been asleep a la Rip van Winkle for the past 20 years [Cynthia?], let us recap what has been going on in this country. There is an extremely dangerous domestic enemy out there, and it isn't the naturalized Muslims that the redoubtable Congressman Peter King is investigating. It is an organization that calls itself the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, better known as AIPAC. AIPAC is the most powerful foreign lobby in Washington, by far. It was founded in the 1950s with the support of the Israeli Foreign Ministry to create an organization that would lobby for sustained American financial, diplomatic, and military support of Israel, but, curiously, it has never been required to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act or FARA, which would require full public disclosure of finances - details of income and expenditures - as well as periodic reports on the nature of the relationship between the organization and the foreign government in question.

"AIPAC is the focal point of the Israel Lobby in the United States. On its website it describes itself as 'America's pro-Israel lobby'. It is located in Washington DC but has branches nationwide, has a budget of $70 million a year, and has several hundred full time employees. It hosts an annual conference, this year in May, which attracts 6,000 supporters and is a required stop for politicians and civic leaders from both parties, all attending to pledge their support for Israel. Presidents, Vice Presidents, Secretaries of State, and congressional leaders all have spoken at the AIPAC conference. Hundreds of congressmen regularly attend its sessions. During the past 2 years the conference was focused on the issue of Iran as a threat to Israel and the world. AIPAC wants the United States to have only one true friend in the world and that friend will be Israel. That means that uncritically supporting Israeli interests has sidelined American foreign policy objectives and led to at least one war, against Iraq, in which thousands of Americans and some hundreds of thousands of foreigners have died. If AIPAC is successful in its desire to convince Washington to solve the Iran nuclear problem by force if necessary, it could lead to another war that almost certainly would have catastrophic global consequences.

"The point of all this is that AIPAC is why the UN veto took place. AIPAC and its friends own Congress, the White House, and the mainstream media in its reporting on the Middle East. They are also powerful enough to set policy to overturn initiatives that they diapprove of. AIPAC operates by forcing all American politicians at a national level to respond to various postitions supported by the the Israel Lobby. Congressional candidates are carefully screened for their views on the Middle East and are coached to modify positions that are regarded as unacceptable. Those who pass the test are then vetted on their degree of reliability and, if approved, become recipients of good press from AIPAC's friends in the media and cash contributions from the numerous PACs that have been set up to support the pro-Israel agenda. Once in office, the politicians are bombarded with AIPAC position papers, with visits from AIPAC representatives, and are expected to conform completely to the positions taken by the organization. That is why resolutions in Congress relating to Israel generally receive nearly unanimous approval no matter how frivolous or injurious to the US national interest... Why do office seekers and congressmen put up with the pressure? It is because they know that crossing AIPAC frequently means that the media will turn sour, funding will dry up, and a well-resourced candidate will suddenly appear in opposition at the next election. Ask Congressmen Paul Findley and Pete McCloskey or Senators William Fulbright and Chuck Percy, all of whom were perceived as critics of Israel and all of whom were forced from office in exactly that fashion. Opposing AIPAC can be a political death wish." (The veto from hell, 23/2/11)

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